While we think of Brooklyn as the native habitat of Orthodox Jews, they are actually flourishing in suburbia, according to Etan Diamond's study of an Orthodox neighborhood in suburban Toronto. Forced (by the ban on driving on the Sabbath) to live within walking distance of the synagogue, these communities have withstood the centrifugal forces of the car culture. Their religious schools have meshed perfectly with the suburban obsession with children and education. They have even sparked a commodified, upscale market for Kosher foods and lifestyle accoutrements, a religiously-tinged variant of suburban consumerism. Orthodox Jews have thus "blended into the upwardly mobile, consumerist world of North American suburban culture, all the while retaining.religious traditionalism and community cohesion."
Diamond notes that the Orthodox seem to have become more ritualitstically observant and clannish as they journey into the suburbs. The Orthodox success story thus proves that suburbia, far from being a socially sterile sprawl, is a nursery for spicy, close-knit communities. Perhaps; but maybe their ever more determined particularism is itself something of a defense mechanism against suburban anomie. Regardless, Diamond's book is an absorbing look at religion and suburbs, two of the most important aspects of North American society.